Spotting the Signs and Facing Addiction of Teen Drug Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teenagers are being introduced to substance use as early as age 13. With this exposure, there is a likelihood your child will feel pressured to partake in substance abuse and may at some point try alcohol and other substances (e.g., marijuana, opioids, hallucinogens, etc.) because their friends are doing it.

Many teens don’t use these substances recreationally, expecting to develop a substance use disorder, but the negative effects of substance abuse can cause addiction. In most cases, teens who can’t distinguish the point where they went from “casual” or recreational drug use to full-blown addiction have a substance use disorder.

The sooner you recognize that your child is abusing alcohol and or other substances, the sooner you can seek help to resolve the problem.

Teen Drug Abuse: Know the Signs

One of the first signs of teen drug abuse are the effects of recurring drug or alcohol use. In a short time, the hangover turns into a constant feeling of unwellness or sickness. To aid these physical feelings and to feel “normal” or “well” is called tolerance. The more tolerant someone becomes, the more they will need the substance to maintain a feeling of “normalcy” or “wellness.” 

Addiction is also known to cause a growing lack of drive and disinterest in activities or hobbies that the individual once found interesting or entertaining. Additionally, they may become antisocial and become less worried about their physical appearance and hygiene. Substances alter one’s neurochemical levels, so feelings of depression, sadness, emptiness, irritation, and anxiety are common. Substance use disorder is a diagnosable chronic disease.

Because substance abuse alters behavior and other personal aspects, family, friends, and intimate relationships are affected due to a general lack of disinterest. Teens who have an addiction become distant and will no longer actively participate in these relationships, and there can be a loss of closeness. With this emotional distance comes dishonesty, poor choices, and desperation.

An individual struggling with addiction will be dishonest about what he or she is doing, where they’re going, if they’re using, etc. On top of that, in times of desperation, an individual can and will do anything to get their next high, even if that means stealing.

Addiction is an all-consuming disease that causes the individual to act out of character. Other signs to look for are declining grades at school, job loss, and legal trouble.

Find Addiction Treatment for Teen Drug Abuse

If you think your teen is struggling with addiction, it’s time to consider the types of treatment available and choose the most effective program for their needs. The right level of care and the most beneficial program starts with evaluating the teen’s substance abuse history. Questions to consider include:

  • How long have they been using?
  • Which substance is the teen most dependent upon?
  • Is this their first time in treatment; and
  • Does substance abuse run in the family?

Different treatment programs include medical detox, inpatient therapy, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient, and outpatient care.

Where to Find Help

Want to learn more about substance use disorder and the treatments for it? Reach out to Arete Recovery. Our professional team of recovery specialists and intake coordinators are educated and experienced in helping find the treatments that help teens with addiction regain their life and health. Call us today. Don’t let addiction claim another life.

Addiction: Tearing Families Apart

Although addiction affects everyone differently, the factors that contribute to the development of it remain the same. For some, a genetic predisposition renders them particularly susceptible to addiction, more likely due to a confluence of biological factors to become addicted once they experiment with that kind of behavior. Environmental factors can also cause a person to develop a substance use disorder. No matter which way someone becomes addicted, families will be hurt.

This refers to the combination of family and addiction in the household, being part of a peer group that consists of recreational drug users, living in a community in which substance abuse is common, and mind-altering substances are readily available, and so on. 

However, the final ingredient for the development of addiction rests in the individual’s behaviors and depends on whether he or she begins to experiment with recreational intoxication and substance abuse. 

More often than not, it’s a combination of these factors—the genetic, environmental, and behavioral—that result in a person developing an addiction, physically and psychologically depending on behaviors or mind-altering substances.

When an individual struggles with addiction, he or she experiences many profound effects. Dependence on destructive behaviors and substances can cause an array of health effects, causing an individual to experience rapid weight loss or even emaciation. 

Depending on the substance, the individual might be putting themselves at risk of contracting diseases such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

What’s more, addiction causes a degradation in character and behavior, which may result in criminal behavior, and the damage or even destruction to important relationships. The extent of damage felt by the loved ones abusing substances is often underestimated. 

Family members, friends, coworkers, and other loved ones often watch as their addicted loved one continues on a self-destructive path, feeling helpless to stop it. The many effects of addiction can result in immeasurable damage to families, making it challenging to remain supportive and encouraging to the one who’s dependent on alcohol and drugs.

Families and Addiction: Development and Effects

Just as people aren’t born addicted to alcohol, drugs, or harmful behaviors, loved ones don’t develop an addiction overnight. The precursor to addiction is often recreational substance abuse, but it’s also common for individuals prescribed controlled substances for legitimate conditions to begin abusing those drugs, developing dependency in the process.

No matter how addiction develops, there’s often an initial period during when the individual who is developing an addiction does so largely without the notice of other members of the family. 

As an individual’s recreational substance abuse begins to give way to addiction, his or her tolerance for the substance of choice increases, resulting in the need to consume more of the substance to achieve the desired effects. This often coincides with the individual beginning to display abnormal behaviors.

However, these behaviors often begin infrequently and grow slowly, steadily more frequent, which causes the family to develop a tolerance to these behaviors and makes them somewhat less noticeable. 

In plainer terms, this might mean an individual slowly withdraws from the family to an increasing extent, but the family doesn’t really notice since the affected family member withdraws little by little over time.

As the family member becomes increasingly preoccupied with his or her substance abuse, the behaviors worsen and become more prominent, causing family members to worry. 

This is often the point during which trouble at work or school begins, or perhaps even legal difficulties if the abnormal behaviors are criminally punishable. It’s also during this period that a family decides—either consciously or unconsciously—how they are going to handle or cope with the individual’s growing addiction.

The response can be to deny the reality or severity of the problem, to adopt a zero-tolerance stance, and so on. Relatives often suffer physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, in their work, and in many other ways, which might initiate feelings of resentment toward the affected family member.

Over time, the situation becomes more serious. Many people with a substance use disorder resort to criminal behavior to sustain their addictions, which typically includes lying to and stealing from their loved ones. 

This causes family members and friends a direct financial hardship that often leads to a breaking point. If the individual remains unwilling to admit the nature of his or her problem, accept responsibility for his or her actions, and receive treatment for addiction, the result is often that the family implodes.

The individual with the addiction might be forced to move out of the home and lose family support. This can have many consequences. The individual may not yet have lived on their own or has a minimal work history. This could mean people in this situation will have to fend for themselves without having any time to prepare for the transition.

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction

The combination of family and addiction can result in dire consequences. Perhaps the biggest risk is the possibility that it results in other members of the family developing an addiction.

Research has indicated time and again that individuals are significantly more likely to develop an addiction whenit runs in the family or when they have been exposed to it in their childhood and adolescent years. 

For this reason, it’s important to address the issue of a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder and prevent the situation from causing additional hardships.

When a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it’s common for family members to orchestrate an intervention. Often, with the help of an intervention specialist or interventionist, the family gathers to confront the person with the addiction in an empathetic, non-aggressive way to express their thoughts and feelings. 

Each person shares how they have been affected by that person’s dependency and encourages the person to break free from the chains of addiction.

With adequate preparation, interventions have been proven to have an admirable rate of success. Additionally, when a member of the family struggles with addiction, it’s important to outline consequences for the behavior if it continues and/or should the individual choose to deny the reality of dependency and refuse to participate in family treatment.

If you or a family member are abusing drugs or alcohol, we can help. The caring, professional staff at Arete Recovery are here to help those who want to end their dependence or addiction. Our staff is educated in working with families where substance use is tearing the family unit apart. Call us today for information

How to Handle Breakups in Recovery

Some people think that those struggling to become sober can’t handle breakups in recovery.

Surviving a broken heart is one of the most difficult things to deal with in life; it doesn’t matter if you are in recovery. Losing someone you care about and dealing with the realization that the relationship has reached its end is a huge challenge. It doesn’t matter how tough, how physically strong, or how old you are; a broken heart hurts. However it happened, if you were in love, there is going to be a recovery period from the breakup. When this occurs during addiction recovery, additional support and coping skills are already at hand.

This article provides tips to make sure you do not return to the substance of abuse to help deal with emotions. When the right tools are available to use, then being blindsided by a breakup, and the ensuing flood of negative feelings, won’t be as hard to handle. Here are some steps to fight through it.

1. Release Your Feelings

Was your heart broken? Cry. Rant. Cuss. Don’t hold back. Let it out.  Accept the warmth from the others in group therapy. Dive into individual therapy and the alternative or holistic forms of therapy. These can be reassuringly cathartic.

Cognitive behavioral therapy gives you the means of working out how to manage the very high ups and very low downs of a breakup. The exercises in the session are useful, and if you dive in, you will find a valuable way to deal with the heavy feelings that come with breaking up with someone.  Employ the skills to avoid your triggers.

Help take your mind off of the ex by joining group outings. Just don’t spend time alone.

2. Do Not Try to Find a Replacement

People aren’t like light bulbs or batteries; you shouldn’t be able to replace them easily. If you are truly heartbroken, then don’t try to hide your pain by finding a replacement.

You need to process the pain and deal with the loss of that part of your life. Filling that hole isn’t going to make the pain go away. Movies and TV shows always talk about a rebound, but rushing into new relationships can be more detrimental than good, as can finding that replacement in your recovery treatment center.

3. Keep Busy

Besides spending time with friends, there are plenty of things you can do to stay busy. Maybe find yourself a new hobby or start exercising regularly. Check out some movies you’ve wanting to see or binge-watch the latest Netflix craze.

Don’t just sit in your room alone ruminating about the relationship’s end. Move on from pain but reach out to your recovery buddies when you need to.

Learn something new. Try something new. Reinvent a better, physically and psychologically healthier you.

Handle Breakups in Recovery with Ease, Not Relapse

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, it’s time to find an accredited addiction treatment center. Relationship break-ups are common triggers for drug and alcohol relapses. If you begin to notice odd and/or depressive or suicidal signs from someone, get help immediately. One of our agents will gladly walk you through how to spot addiction, talk to the affected person, and getting your loved one into treatment.

What You Need to Know About the 5 Stages of Addiction

Today, more than 40 million people in the United States over age 12 are grappling with an addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. With overdoses on the rise and a growing opioid epidemic affecting millions around the country, it’s more important than ever to be able to spot and treat substance abuse early on.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has a drug problem, it’s important you learn how to recognize the different stages of addiction and the ways to take the proper action against them. Sadly, the path from drug experimentation to a full-blown addiction can easily be a downward spiral. Five major stages of drug addiction manifest along this spiral. Below are some of the most common factors of each phase and recommendations on how to help users that are dealing with the five different stages of drug addiction.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Common signs:

People usually start experimenting with drugs during their teenage years. More than half of first-time drug users try substances before they turn 18 years old. They are often initiated or pressured into trying drugs by a friend, and at this point, they still consider the experience to be fun and entertaining.

More than half of first-time drug users start to experiment with marijuana first. Substance use during this phase is not frequent and typically happens during social gatherings. Experimental users don’t have cravings and feel like they are in total control of their drug use. They can choose to stop using drugs whenever they want and can go for long periods without them.

How to treat this stage:

For some, drug experimentation never leads to substance abuse problems later on. For others, it can be the first step toward establishing a long-term addiction. Monitoring the frequency of drug use early on is an important step toward preventing more routine use in the future.

A good approach early on in drug experimentation is to ask the person why they are experimenting in the first place. If they are using drugs to cope with pain or emotional issues, try offering other solutions to the problem such as counseling or therapy.

Stage 2: Regular Use

Common signs:

At this stage, substance use becomes part of a routine for users. It doesn’t necessarily mean drugs are used on a daily basis, but there is a repeated pattern of behavior such as using drugs every weekend or at every party. Users also may start using drugs repeatedly to help them cope with a particular situation such as when they are stressed out or have feelings of depression.

Regular users no longer need to be in a social setting to do drugs and begin to use substances when they are alone, too. They may also start experiencing drug hangovers the day after doing drugs, which may cause them to miss work or school occasionally. Regular users still appear to function normally but start displaying certain changes in behavior including defiance, depression, aggression, and anxiety.

How to treat this stage:

If a regular user has already tried counseling without positive results, it might be time to try going to an outpatient facility for treatment.

With outpatient care, users typically visit a clinic for regular, scheduled appointments with medical professionals that can last anywhere from one to eight hours. The treatment is similar to what a person would receive at an inpatient facility, but with the added benefit that they do not have to leave their homes.

Outpatient programs include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, stress management, motivational incentives, group therapy, and individual and family therapy.

Outpatient care works best for users who are still in good health, have a stable living situation, and a strong network of supportive loved ones. “The strongest thing that is helpful is having a system of care that can surround the person,” says Dr. Kelly Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Stage 3: Risk-Taking Use

Common signs:

During the risk-taking stage, users start to lose control of their drug use and start engaging in dangerous activities to fulfill their habit. Their drug use starts to negatively impact their job performance, grades, personal relationships, and financial well being.

At this hazardous stage, it’s not unusual for users to:

    • Drive under the influence
    • Have unprotected sex
    • Get arrested
    • Lose their job
    • Spend irresponsible amounts of money on substances
    • Break up with partners and end friendships
    • Lie to loved ones

Physical symptoms in a risk-tasking user start to become more noticeable. Risky users often experience changes in weight, problems with memory, and poor coordination skills. Users at this stage often realize they already have a substance abuse problem but might still refuse to get help or treatment, even though they are aware their drug use is negatively affecting their lives. Risk-taking drug users begin to experience intense cravings for drugs, and the possibility of quitting seems much more difficult than it did in the past.

How to treat this stage:

For those in the risk-taking stage, inpatient rehabilitation in a residential setting might be a better option for treatment than therapy and/or outpatient facilities. Users who have started engaging in reckless behavior can benefit from going to a short-term, inpatient program that will help remove them from situations where they are constantly tempted to do drugs. It can also help them avoid negative influences and people who have contributed to their addiction. The length of stay for a user at a short-term inpatient facility can vary anywhere from a few days to up to 30 days.

At an inpatient rehab, users are provided with round-the-clock care including but not limited to: individual counseling sessions, family counseling, group therapy, medical care, and medication management. Inpatient care is recommended for those who feel unable to stop their drug use without being in a safe, supervised, and drug-free environment. Once their inpatient treatment is over, users usually continue their recovery with outpatient care and counseling.

Stage 4: Dependence

Common signs:

Users at this stage have become physically dependent on drugs. Their brain’s chemistry has now become accustomed to regular drug use and is unable to function normally without it. Dependent drug users suffer from constant cravings for substances as well as intense withdrawal symptoms that depend on their drug of choice and can include: nausea, shaking, sweating, muscle pain, rapid heart rate, and even seizures. Dependent users have created a much higher tolerance for drugs and now need much higher doses of the substance than before to get high. These users are aware they are physically and psychologically dependent on drugs, but the possibility of stopping drug use can seem impossible without outside help. Relapse often occurs for users who try to quit substance abuse on their own at this stage.

How to treat this stage:

Once a user has become physically dependent on substances, their body might need to go through drug detoxification first. At a drug detox center, users go through the withdrawal process of drug addiction in a safe, monitored environment. They are also provided with medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and minimize discomfort. Going through detoxification first increases a user’s chance of staying sober. Those who detox safely from drug dependency are also more likely to seek treatment at inpatient and outpatient facilities immediately after detoxification. Drug detox programs are recommended for users who have become physically dependent on substances and those who have been abusing drugs for long stretches of time.

Stage 5: Addiction

Common signs:

Users in the addiction stage of substance abuse have become completely and utterly dependent on drugs. Addicted users can’t imagine life without using drugs and will do almost anything to get their hands on them. Cravings have become unbearable, and it often feels like the only way to survive is to consume more substances. The search for more drugs dominates a user’s daily activities.Users are compulsively dependent on their drug abuse and can suffer from chronic relapses when trying to quit their substance abuse.

The lives of stage five addicts are often chaotic and out of control.

How to treat this stage:

A variety of treatment options are available for people who have become completely addicted to drugs. A hospital inpatient treatment facility can provide several different levels of care for addicts.

Users who are hospitalized first go through medically supervised detoxes, in which severe withdrawal symptoms are managed and eased. Medications to help manage their addiction, such as methadone and Suboxone may also be provided.

Users are also required to attend individual counseling sessions to understand the root of their addiction and to help them avoid psychological relapses in the future.

Hospital inpatient facilities are beneficial to most substance users but are typically aimed toward users who are addicted to substances with severe withdrawal symptoms and long-term substance abusers.

There are also long-term residential drug treatment programs for those who feel like they need a lengthier, more dedicated type form of treatment. In this type of housing facility, users often stay in treatment for at least 90 days, regularly attending counseling, group therapy, and educational classes on drug abuse. Medication management is also available.

Addiction can seem like a tough battle to fight, but it’s important to know it is possible to overcome. As is the case with most diseases, the sooner an addiction is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of recovery. Drug addiction doesn’t have to become a lifelong struggle, with the right amount of support and proper course of treatment, addicts can regain control and live happy and fulfilling lives.

Start Addiction Recovery at Arete

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and would like to explore your recovery options, Arete Recovery can help you today. Call us now or connect with us online to speak with one of our recovery specialists who can match you or your loved one to the right treatments to return to a life of health, sobriety, and fulfillment.